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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

"I said to myself ‘We’re going into the water.’ So I took a deep breath."

Paul Murphy survived the freak accident that resulted in his two colleagues drowning.

THE MAN WHO survived a freak accident while working on Thomond Bridge in Limerick city has spoken out about what happened that day.

Two of his colleagues drowned in the incident.

Paul Murphy (36) told The Ryan Tubridy Show he was “nervous” about working above the River Shannon as he can’t swim.

TJ O’Herlihy (36) from Castleisland in Kerry and Bryan Whelan (29) from Broadford in Clare died on Saturday, 29 August died when the support cage they were in while carrying out restoration work on the bridge fell into the water below.

rte Source: RTÉ News

Murphy said reports he had a premonition about the accident have been exaggerated, but noted: “It was just my own little thought … if I go into the water, I have to get out.”

He knew Whelan for four-and-a-half years, but only met O’Herlihy that morning. It was O’Herlihy’s first day on the job.

Once I heard the bang I knew myself what it was. For some reason I knew exactly what happened, the rope broke. I said to myself ‘We’re going into the water.’ So I took a deep breath. As we hit the water my life jacket inflated, I can still hear the noise – the Velcro ripping on the vest.

Murphy said he realised his “one chance” of getting out of the water was to get his harness off, which he was “luckily” able to do.

‘Like a scene in a movie’

He described the situation as being “like a scene in a Hollywood movie”, saying the water was “clear, then murky, then black”.

I couldn’t see no one … the next thing I remember is that when I came up I hit my head.

Murphy thanked his colleagues who kept him calm and a teenager who threw him a lifebuoy. He said he isn’t sure how long he was in the water for, but thinks it was about five or ten minutes.

Murphy said he knew it was too late for his colleagues by the time he was rescued as they had been in the water too long by then.

He noted some people filmed rescue services attempting to revive his colleagues, describing this as “disgusting” and “a bit too far”, adding: “It wasn’t a show”.

Murphy said he is very grateful to be alive and feels “deep sorrow for the other two boys and their families”.

Read: Two workers who died in fall from Limerick bridge named as Brian Whelan and TJ Herlihy

Read: Funeral details confirmed for men who died in freak Limerick bridge accident

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Órla Ryan

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